Seeing the Mistral missile launcher, Yohan thought back to when he was in the air force. For two years, he had been hands-on with this equipment every day. Seeing it in the middle of the apocalypse gave him a warm feeling inside. He pressed a few buttons, sat down, and spun the machinery around.
“You look like you have experience with this, sir.” Corporal Ong approached Yohan with a smile.
“It was my specialty when I was in the military,” Yohan replied, with a broad grin. “I’ve only fired it for real once, but I know how to work it.”
On the Daecheon shooting grounds, Yohan was the spotter in his unit. All he did was hold the binoculars. However, he had to learn how to operate the weapon. Though it was a bit embarrassing to admit it now, back when he was still in the military, he had worked hard and aimed to be the ace of his unit. He put in a lot of time and effort, whether it was on the simulator or in infrared training. His body still knew everything about the equipment.
“It’s a guided missile launcher, to be exact. If a flying mutant appears, I’ll be able to show you my skills.”
“Oh, I’m looking forward to it. But…are there mutants that know how to fly?”
“Probably not?” Yohan replied. Corporal Ong laughed. As far as Yohan knew, there weren’t any flying zombies. He truly hoped that this would always be the case, though it would mean that he wouldn’t be able to show off his skills. He still had a chance if there was a mutant that was susceptible to infrared. Or if a high-level mutant appeared, like David or The Butcher.
“The battle seems to be over, so let’s go clean up. Ong, find something to cover up the Balkan and Mistral and protect it from the elements.”
“Hyuk and Saeri, check on the camp members and make sure everyone is okay.”
“Ha Jin and Sweeper, sweep the ship for survivors. If there aren’t any, check out what supplies they have and move them to our warehouse.”
“Everybody else, take care of the bodies. Collect their guns and ammo.”
Yohan gave orders to all the recon team members except for their new comrades. He looked at them with mixed feelings.
“Verda, Pio, and So Hee…”
“Relax.” Yohan decided to give them a chance to rest and reflect on the battle.
He didn’t want to criticize them. They didn’t have much experience fighting other humans. It was only natural for them to be adversed to homicide. Amazingly, they did their part during the battle. They didn’t let the shock get to them and they didn’t mess up. Yohan decided to let them get over their discomfort on their own. They had agreed to follow his methods and this was the way he did things.
“No survivors, right?” Yohan joined up with Sweeper and Ha Jin, who had thoroughly checked the empty warship.
As expected, there were no more sailors. Yohan looked around the warship for a bit before heading back to the battlefield. There was a lot of work to be done here. There was a lot of blood on the ground and the recon team members were already busy piling up the dead bodies. The massacre ruined the pastoral farm scene.
The navy men who had died in one shot were actually the lucky ones. There were still soldiers moaning in pain, bleeding out from a gut wound or some other vital organ. Pio and Verda didn’t know what to do with these soldiers. They gave cold looks to the other recon team members, who were busy managing the corpses. It was as if they were criticizing their comrades. So Hee was on the side, vomiting. She couldn’t hold back her nausea any more.
“Gah…uhh…” One of the sailors with a gut wound gave a final, painful moan before dying. Pio drooped his head before getting up to drag the corpse to the big pile in the middle.
“Oh, before you move the corpses, check their pockets and ammo belt.” Jin Soo said, pointing at the sailor in Pio’s arms. He wasn’t scolding him. If anything, he spoke in a friendly manner. To Jin Soo, it was an obvious thing to do, but he was willing to instruct the newcomers. However, Pio felt a surge of emotion cresting within him.
“How could you—”
“Good job everyone.” Yohan placed a hand on Pio’s shoulder before he could say any more.
Even though all the recon team members had calm expressions on their faces and were working hard, Yohan could see that they looked a bit pale. One by one, he patted them on the shoulder and spoke a few words of encouragement. After making sure that everyone was looking better, he pulled So Hee aside. Pio and Verda joined them shortly afterwards.
“What are your thoughts after our first fight together?”
“I think you guys are amazing,” Pio replied. He was being sincere.
The navy had three times their numbers and the recon team fought back with just pistols and hand-to-hand combat. There was no plan beforehand and no one gave a signal. Still, everyone fought at the same time. There was no point mentioning Ha Jin or Sweeper—they were the aces of the team—but all the other members calmly joined in the battle without misstep. It revealed how much training and experience they had. In the end, it was a flawless victory with no casualties on their side.
However, what was shocking was their ruthlessness. Even though they were fighting humans, they didn’t think twice about killing them. Rather, if they missed dealing a fatal blow, they became more determined and would fire at the enemy again. Even if you removed their individual abilities, the overall power and coordination of the group was undeniable. It was to the point where the military looked like children.
“Did we have to kill them all?”
“I wish you would have figured it out yourself that a question like this is annoying to me. If something gets asked again and again, it would quickly become clichéd. Right?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What I mean is that it’s a pain to explain every time someone new comes along. Just my orders to take care of the corpses and collect the guns and ammunition should have clued you in.”
“No, that’s not it…” Pio didn’t know much about Yohan’s personality. He didn’t know that, if he kept pressing the issue, he would get dragged into Yohan’s pace.
“Are you uncomfortable with looting dead bodies?”
“Of course…I’m uncomfortable killing another human. And then you ask us to take their belongings afterward? Isn’t it normal to feel uncomfortable? It’s not like we’re short on guns and ammo.”
“Whether it’s weapons or ammo, it’s all supplies. If you consider the amount of training we do, we definitely don’t have enough. Even if you ignore the training, do you really think we have enough supplies to last us if we had to fight zombies every day until we die?”
“Searching a dead body is just another way of scavenging for supplies. Whether it’s a zombie or a human, they’re all corpses, no matter how they died. You’ll get used to it. You have to get used to it.”
Yohan didn’t want to say that they were weak-minded, but their comments forced him to deliver some cold, hard reality. However, he tried not to be too harsh. After all, they had performed well in their very first battle and followed his orders, despite their beliefs. Once they got used to his methods, Yohan knew that they would be able to carry their own weight. He wasn’t worried about Pio or Verda. So Hee on the other hand…
“Is it difficult for you?” Yohan asked.
So Hee didn’t help out with piling the corpses. She couldn’t look at a body without throwing up.
“I’ll give you another chance,” Yohan said. So Hee wiped her face and looked at Yohan with a thousand-yard stare. “I don’t think you’re capable of fighting, but everyone here needs to carry their own weight. You can join the recon group and learn how to fight, become a farmer, or take up a trade. You’ll be welcomed no matter what you choose, so pick something that you actually want to do.”
“Well, you don’t have to decide right now. You can also change your mind anytime, so think about it.”
Despite giving her the option, Yohan assumed that she would eventually end up in the recon team since she was already used to using a weapon. Yohan left the newcomers and saw that the battlefield clean up was done. There was one more important thing to check on.
“Saeri, come to me.” Yohan called for Saeri over the walkie-talkie.
— “Okay, I’ll be right there.”
A few moments later, Yohan could hear a motorcycle approaching. Saeri spun the bike in a wide arc and parked it expertly before running over to Yohan. Yohan complimented her, patting her on the head a couple of times.
“How is everyone doing?”
“Oh, you know. They’re just shocked and scared.”
“Did anyone express resentment over the fact that we killed the sailors?”
“I don’t think so. There were bullets flying everywhere. They were probably too shocked to even think about that. Anyway, the enemy shot first.”
“Well, that’s a relief. All that’s left is…” Yohan looked over to the few remaining sailors who were still alive. Their hands were bound with zip ties and they were on their knees.
Yohan had no intentions of making them camp members. They might be happy to join and could become valuable and powerful members, but they just as easily could be holding onto a grudge and would eventually stab them in the back. They were trouble. The proper course of action was to kill them all.
Yohan undid the safety on his revolver and walked up to the sailors. He went up to the highest ranked officer and squatted down to look him in the eye. He looked at the sailor’s name tag and removed his gag. The officer’s entire body was trembling as he looked up at Yohan with fear in his eyes.
“Petty Officer Jo Hyun Woo. I have a few questions for you.”
“Ah, ahh…” The sailor looked at Yohan as if he was the devil incarnate. Yohan ignored him as he asked his first question.
“Can you operate the warship with the few surviving sailors here?”
“Please…spare me…” The sailor didn’t answer Yohan’s question. Fear and chaos clouded his mind as he racked his brains for an answer that would let him live.
However, Yohan could tell from his expression that operating the warship wasn’t possible. He knew that there was nothing else to be gained from the current situation, so he replaced the gag and stood up. He pulled out his revolver and checked the chamber to make sure it was loaded. Yohan slowly extended the gun at the officer. Letting him live would only cause problems in the future.
“Wa—wait!” Pio pulled Yohan’s arm down.
“Are you really going to kill him? He can’t even resist.”
“I’m not saying this to make you feel bad, don’t misunderstand. However, don’t you think that killing them is a bit extreme?” Pio looked at Yohan with a serious expression on his face. He was trying so hard to convince Yohan, not understanding Yohan’s nature. Yohan had to hold back a smile as he was reminded of someone else.
“These guys might come back for revenge. Would it be better to chop off his hands and let him go?”
“Is that still too extreme?”
The sailors flinched at Yohan’s words.
“Look kid. I’m tired of explaining to you why sometimes we have to be cruel and take care of things that could cause trouble for us in the future. If you’re not convinced, grab any passer-by in this camp and ask them. And if you’re still not satisfied after that, bring your lady to me.”
Pio opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something. However, at that moment, Sweeper and Ha Jin arrived, pulling a dolly filled with supplies.
“Jeez boss man. Why are you giving the newbie such a hard time? Did he make a mistake?”
“No, he actually did pretty well,” Yohan replied honestly. They had indeed performed better than he expected during the battle. However, that was then and this is now. Yohan raised his gun again at the sailors.
“Mmm…mmm!” The gagged sailors struggled against their restraints. Yohan’s finger hovered over the trigger. Suddenly, Yohan sighed and dropped his arm to his side.
“Huh? What’s wrong?”
“I changed my mind. Jung Hwan, start the boat and put these people on it.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to drop them off at Yeongjong island. I’ll let them go.” Yohan announced. Everyone looked at him in confusion. Sweeper and Ha Jin didn’t fully understand what was going on and were curious.
Yohan ignored everybody and made the sailors stand up and line up. He marched them onto the boat. As he was about to depart on his own, Sweeper hopped onto the boat.
“You should go rest.”
“I’ll come along. What if they attack you the moment you let them go?”
Yohan paused for a moment and then nodded. The noisy motor roared to life as the fishing boat started to cut its way through the water. Sweeper enjoyed the feeling of the salty sea air on the deck for a moment before entering the cockpit.
“Hey boss man.”
“What are you thinking about? You aren’t talking much.”
“Hmm…I’ve been thinking about Gae Baek Jun,.” Yohan replied. Sweeper made a crude expression, as if he saw something he wished he hadn’t seen.
“Jeez bro, what’s wrong with you?”
“God damnit, get your head out of the gutter. I was thinking about the organization plans that he made back in the day. It was such a strange group. Why give ranks to hundreds of people? He did it all himself. Every time someone died, he reassigned ranks. And there were a lot of deaths.
— Ω —